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Stop, Look & Listen: Railroad Retirement Benefits Q&A

Answers are provided by Robert S. Kaufman

Working While in Disabled Status

(Posted April 8, 2004)

Question 426: My husband is trying to get total disability benefits from Railroad Retirement. What, if anything, is he allowed to earn before it affects his Disability Annuity?

Answer: Usually an applicant for Total and Permanent Disability benefits is so disabled that the RRB would expect that the worker is no longer employed due to the disabling condition.

Once disability is granted and payments, begin there are special earning restrictions if the disabled worker again begins to work.
The annuity is not payable for any month in which the annuitant works for an employer covered under the Railroad Retirement Act. The annuity is not payable for any month in which the annuitant earns more than $400 in any employment or net self-employment, exclusive of work-related expenses. Withheld payments will be restored if earnings for the year are less than $5,000 after deduction of disability-related work expenses. Otherwise, the annuity is subject to a deduction of one months benefit for each multiple of $400 earned over $4,800 (the last $200 or more of earnings over $4,800 count as $400). Failure to report such earnings could involve a penalty charge.

These disability work restrictions cease upon a disabled employee annuitants attainment of full retirement age. This transition is effective no earlier than full retirement age even if the annuitant had 30 years of service. Earnings deductions continue to apply to those working for their last pre-retirement nonrailroad employer.

If a disabled annuitant works before full retirement age, this may also raise a question about the possibility of that individuals recovery from disability, regardless of the amount of earnings. Consequently, any earnings must be reported promptly to avoid overpayments, which are recoverable by the Board and may also include penalties.

Important notice:

Answers are provided as general guidance on the subjects covered in the question and are not provided as legal advice to the questioner or to readers. Any legal issues should be reviewed by your legal counsel to apply the law to the particular facts of this and similar situations.

The law in this area changes frequently. Answers are believed to be correct as of the posting dates shown. The completeness or accuracy of a particular answer may be affected by changes in the law (statutes, regulations, rulings, court decisions, etc.) that occur after the date on which a particular Q&A is posted.

Copyright 1997-2017 Robert S. Kaufman
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